Ever since announcing his candidacy for Alabama’s U.S. Senate seat up for grabs this November, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, on several occasions, has had to defend his 2017 decision to recuse himself from any investigation involving President Donald Trump’s successful 2016 presidential campaign.
Sessions has been unable to shake the controversial decision, especially given Trump continues to attack Sessions. Last week on Fox News, Trump took another shot at his former attorney general.
“Jeff Sessions was a disaster,” Trump said. “I didn’t want to make him attorney general, but he was the first senator to endorse me, so I felt a little bit of an obligation. He came to see me four times, just begging me to be attorney general. He wasn’t, you know, to me equipped to be attorney general, but he just wanted it, wanted it, wanted it. He was from a state that I love — Alabama. You know, I won Alabama by a tremendous margin. He wanted it, and I said, all right, Jeff.”
Trump continued to disparage Sessions in the interview, referring to him as “very weak and very sad.”
That prompted Sessions to respond with his own statement later in the day.
“I have enormous appreciation for President Trump and all that he has done for our country,” Sessions said. “I will be voting for him this fall, and working hard to pass his agenda when I return to the Senate next year. The specific law for the Department of Justice required that I recuse myself from the Russian collusion investigation. To not recuse myself from that investigation, of which I was a target as a senior campaign official and a witness, would have been breaking the law. I do not and will not break the law. On this matter, I agree with the late Tom Petty’s famous lyric – ‘you can stand me up to the gates of hell, but I won’t back down.'”
Sessions faces former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville in a July 14 Republican primary runoff election, which was initially slated for March 31 but postponed as Alabamians deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump endorsed Tuberville back in March, days after Tuberville was the top vote-getter in the Republican primary.
On Tuesday, Sessions released an open letter he penned to Alabamians, first obtained by Breitbart News, which defended the recusal and criticized Tuberville.
“As the world knows, the President disagreed with me on recusal, but I did what the law required me to do,” Sessions wrote. “I was a central figure in the campaign and was also a subject of and witness in the investigation and could obviously not legally be involved in investigating myself. If I had ignored and broken the law, the Democrats would have used that to severely damage the President.”
Sessions also addressed questions as to why he accepted Trump’s appointment in 2016 to the post of the nation’s top law enforcement official if there was the possibility of a necessity to recuse. According to Sessions, he did not foresee such circumstances.
“Some have asked, why take the job as Attorney General if I knew I would have to recuse myself from the investigation?” he wrote. “I knew no such thing. I wasn’t informed of Comey’s secret investigation until after I became Attorney General, and the investigation wasn’t publicly confirmed by the FBI until weeks after my recusal.”
As had been reported by the various tell-all books and elsewhere, Sessions confirmed he had offered his resignation from the AG post at the time of the recusal. However, he said Trump had declined to accept it.
“Knowing of the President’s disagreement with my decision, I tendered my resignation in writing the morning after Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel. But President Trump chose not to accept it, and he asked me to continue to serve as his Attorney General and to help him ‘Make America Great Again,'” he wrote.
Tuberville’s campaign had played up Trump’s Fox News comments about Sessions and had even called on Sessions to apologize to Trump for his initial remarks disputing Trump’s account given in his Fox News interview. According to Sessions, he had never “begged” for the position, as Trump had said.
“It is bad enough that Jeff Sessions turned tail and ran when Donald Trump needed him during the Russia collusion hoax, so publicly accusing the president of being a liar just adds insult to injury,” Tuberville campaign manager Paul Shashy said in a statement released on Monday. “President Trump already has enough on his plate dealing with Coronavirus and reopening the economy, so he shouldn’t have to deal with a guy he fired questioning his integrity. Jeff Sessions owes the president a very public and humble apology.”
“Mr. Tuberville is an opportunist who isn’t from here,” Sessions wrote. “He stopped here for work for a while, and moved on, eventually retiring in Florida. He doesn’t know the first thing about Alabama. He says the President is wrong on China, says we must import foreign workers to take American jobs, and up until a few months ago, he said he favors amnesty for illegal immigrants. If you don’t like his position on an issue, just wait a few weeks and he will change it. His house is built on sand.”
The winner of the July 14 Tuberville-Sessions match-up will face incumbent Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) on November 3. Jones won the seat previously occupied by Sessions in a shocking 2017 special election upset victory over former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore.
Read the letter:
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